Why should an atheist believe in the God of the
Bible? / Commentary, Anonymous 00, 2011-05-22
The inspiration of the Bible.
The Bible’s relation to reality.
The existence of God.
The Son of God.
Who don’t want to believe, really don’t have to!
/ Wilhelm Busch, book: "Jesus Our Destiny"
Why should an atheist believe in the God of the
Bible? / Commentary, Anonymous 01, 2011-06-06
If you just can’t believe, you don’t have to either!
/ Wilhelm Busch, book: "Jesus Our Destiny"
Last Words of Great Men. /
Alexander Seibel, West Europe Mission.
Why believe? – Discourse 96
(…) That is why I turn to you. You seem to have a better idea of what
constitutes an argument and a real demonstration of proof. So I would like to ask you a
question: what reasons are there for me to suppose that the God of the Bible really exists and
that Jesus really is the Son of God? I guess we both understand that the Koran was just
developed by a human being who cobbled together a bundle of fantasies. And I suppose we also
both recognize that the Vedas are nothing but a collection of myths. We don’t start praying
Islamic style or honoring the Gods of Hinduism just because some books or other *assert* that
they are true. So how can we know that it is any different with the faith of the Bible? I am an
atheist, and not just for vague emotional reasons. If I thought there were good reasons for
supposing the existence of God and Christ, I would become a Christian. The only problem is that
I don’t see any such reasons. And so perhaps you can offer me better arguments than the
Christians I have come across in the past. What reason is there for me to suppose that this God
exists *at all* and that the Bible is not just a book like countless other books which tell us
about gods who have never existed? I would be very happy to have an answer from you to this
Thank you for your visit to Immanuel.at and for your comments.
If I understand your question correctly, what chiefly concerns you is the truth content of the Bible and its relation to reality. And here, perhaps, I am going to disappoint you right away. My arguments are always based on the Bible, and only on the Bible. If somebody rejects the Bible as a basis for argument, I am like a blind man without a stick.
But on the other hand I am not an advocate of "literal inspiration", or of the "infallibility" of the Bible either. As I already explained years ago in my Discourse 40 ("Are there errors in the Bible?"), as I understand the matter not every word in the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit ("in-breathed", to give the idiom of the original Greek).
All the same, I am happy to try ‒ so far as my knowledge and understanding extend ‒ to point you in the direction of some examples whereby the truth content of what is written in the Bible can be measured against real facts, so that its relation to reality likewise becomes capable of being examined.
(See also Discourse 40: "Are there errors in the
Like many other things in the biblical interpretation of past centuries, the idea of
the literal inspiration of the Bible is an incorrect view, based on a superficial and often even
deliberately tendentious way of looking at things. This false doctrine has its origin in Paul’s
statement in his second letter to Timothy (3,16-17). The original Greek text in the Nestle-Aland
version is as follows:
Every scripture inspired by the Spirit of God is also useful for doctrine.
2Tim 3,16 Every scripture (graphe = writing) inspired by God’s
Spirit (theopneustos = breathed by God) is also useful for doctrine, for conviction, for
improvement, for training in righteousness 3,17 so that the man of God may be fully educated,
equipped for every good work. 2Tim 3,16-17;
Luther translates it a little differently:
For all scripture inspired by God is useful for doctrine.
2Tim 3,16 For all scripture inspired by God is useful for doctrine,
for admonition, for improvement, for training in righteousness 3,17 so that the man of God may be
perfect, ready in all good works. 2Tim 3,16-17;
The NAS translation then renders it as follows:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,.
2Tim 3,16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for
teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 3,17 so that the man of
God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2Tiom 2,16-17;
This somewhat problematic translation ("all Scripture" rather than "every
scripture" in the two translations is in turn backed up ‒ how could it be otherwise?
‒ with an incorrect interpretation. People understand Paul’s statement here as referring to
the entire Bible, as a proclamation that the whole Bible is inspired word for word by the Holy
Spirit. But the attentive reader will already have noticed that nothing is being said about the
Bible in this passage. Instead, Paul is speaking of a scripture ‒ something written.
Specifically, as the Nestle-Aland expresses the original Greek, "every scripture inspired
by the Spirit of God".
So it not exclusively a matter of the Bible, and still less of every word of the Bible, but rather of every writing whose author has been inspired by the Spirit of God to write down these lines. This view is further confirmed by the fact that the word for "scripture" which Paul uses here, graphe in the original, actually means "writing" or "discourse" and does not refer exclusively to the special statements of the Bible.
So we must assume, first of all, that not every word of the Bible is actually the Word of God ‒ take for example the initial greetings and concluding passages of the New Testament epistles ‒ and then too, on the other hand, that there may be writings outside the Bible which the Spirit of God has inspired their author to write. And here too we recognize one of the reasons why ‒ in spite of evident proof to the contrary ‒ people have fancifully extended the meaning of this Pauline text to refer to the entire Bible.
This false interpretation lets its advocates "off the hook" in their biblical commentary ‒ they no longer need to scrutinize, research, study or above all think, as they can quite simply assert that every word of the Bible is true and correct. And anyone who casts doubt on this will be struck down with the argument to which the present commentator refers in his e-mail:
"I have discussed these matters with many Christians in the past, but
they always come up with the same hackneyed arguments ‒ for example, the famous circular logic
that states, ‘The Bible is the Word of God, because it says that it is the Word of God. And
because it is ‒ as we know ‒ the Word of God, it cannot ever be wrong.’ "
The Bible, and other writings as well, may contain the Word of God, but they are not
necessarily inspired in their entirety by the Holy Spirit. Complacent theologians and commentators
have just availed themselves of this notion so that they can silence critics without the need of
extensive argument, and save themselves the trouble of lengthy biblical thinking, studying and
research. Sad to say, today every John Doe and Richard Roe feels compelled to expound the Bible in
their talks and sermons. And if you do not examine the spirit that is concealed behind such
utterances, you can run the risk on occasion of being hoodwinked by unscrupulous cheats.
(See also Discourse 99: "Who are "these brothers
of Mine, even the least of them" in Mt 25,40?")
(See also Discourse 1013: "The "Israel
movement" in the Christian congregations.")
Finally, it is a relatively easy matter to answer the question how we should be able
to know what parts of the Bible are the Word of God and what parts are not. Every rightly believing
Christian who is sincerely interested in the Bible, is not afraid to take the trouble and looks into
open questions with seriousness and zeal, can count on the fact that he too ‒ in the same way
as Paul testifies in 2Tim 3,16 above, with reference to authorship ‒ will have the support of
the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13) and will find pointers to other biblical passages on the same theme which
show how these statements are to be understood, and whether they are thematically relevant or not.
Based on the old principle that "Scripture is its own interpretation", this way you will
discover scriptural proofs either of the correctness of a given interpretation or of its
Examples of biblical passages which are not the Word of God are for instance those passages in the epistles consisting of greetings, communications, admonitions, praise, blame or other kinds of interpersonal information (e.g. Rom 15:1-23; 1Cor 16:19-24; 2Cor 13:11-13; Phil 4:21-23; Col 4:7-18; 1The 5:23-28; 2Tim 4:9-22; etc. etc.). To call in the Holy Spirit as having been responsible for such passages would be to misunderstand the Spirit completely.
The way things are in today’s Christian congregations, the time and effort needed
for biblical study are often neglected, and so accuracy goes by the board. When you find a lack of
clarity in biblical statements, people generally avoid in-depth research and analysis ‒ they
just continue to pass on an interpretation that is well known and familiar, even if it is evidently
erroneous. This is how it happens that interested unbelievers are impatiently brushed off, as
happened to our commentator in this case:
"But it also struck me that these Christians are *generally* somewhat
naive, as soon as you start to talk to them about their faith. If somebody tells me, for example,
that Christianity is true because the prophecies about the land of Israel are being fulfilled in our
own time, and I explain to him that the state of Israel has nothing to do with the promises in the
Bible, do you suppose that these people spare it even a moment’s thought?"
This is an area where false interpretations have always been around, ever since the
establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 ‒ above all in Germany in view of its past
history, and also as a result of the activities of Christian-Evangelical Zionism in German Christian
congregations. Jewish preachers in Christian congregations exploit the "naivety" which our
commentator noticed so as to pretend to them that the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 is
the "gathering of Israel by God", which the Bible only prophesies as happening in the Millennial
Kingdom ‒ with the additional motive of persuading them to give Israel their financial
The former leader of world Jewry and President of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar M. Bronfman, once gave very clear expression to this point of view. When Lothar de Maiziere, uncle of the present German Defense Minister and then Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, made his first visit to New York in September 1990, Bronfman told him: "The Germans will come to a terrible end if future generations terminate their payments to Israel and world Jewry; then the German people will vanish from the earth."
(See also Discourse 08: "The gathering of Israel:
already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?")
The following biblical connections as well have been understood quite correctly by
our commentator, who wishes to remain anonymous, but he was quite simply ignored by the Christians
with whom he was in dialog ‒ evidently because they were lacking any solid knowledge of the
"Or when someone tells me that he had a vision of some people he knows
having died and having been carried up to heaven by angels, and I then say to him that according to
the Bible righteous persons who have died do not go to heaven but to the paradise part of Sheol, and
go on to point out that the Rapture of the living *and the dead* would be completely senseless if
every dead person went to heaven straight away, these people just ignore my objections. Although
this is not an atheist position in any way or addressed against faith as such, but rather involves
matters internal to the Bible, these Christians are not able even to spend a little time thinking
about it or to reflect on these arguments."
It is sad that this kind of attitude in Christian circles has the effect of
rebuffing and alienating unbelievers, above all those who are intelligent and interested. Finally
this leads to a situation where we only have "naive" Christians left in the congregations, the
kind who have no idea of the Bible or of any halfway rational culture of discussion ‒ one in
which you test the arguments of your discussion partner in the light of the Bible and either confirm
them or ‒ again in the light of the Bible ‒ supply the counterarguments.
(See also Discourse 56: "Are Christians who have
died already in heaven?")
On the basis of experience we can state that false interpretations generally come
about when people fail to examine Scripture in sufficient depth, and/or when an objective view of
things is neglected in favor of a personal preference for a certain interpretation ‒ as in the
case above, with the "ascension" of the dead brethren which our commentator criticizes.
Along with actual errors in the Bible (for which, see Discourse 40), we also have a quite conspicuous case in which even a biblical author ‒ Paul, in fact ‒ has failed to avoid an error of this kind. In 2Cor 11,2 Paul writes as follows of the Bride of Christ:
For I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
2Cor 11,2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I
betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 2Cor 11,
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church
Eph 5,31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and
shall be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh. 5,32 This mystery is great; but
I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Eph 5,31-32;
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul then gives a more concrete formulation of his
statement ‒ when he writes that he also understands the relation of man and woman as referring
to Christ and the congregation. So he means to say here that the congregation is the Bride of
Christ. And because Christian congregations have always liked to pick out the cherries from the
biblical "cake", as well as putting on every possible kind of "hat" (as the "woman in
heaven" in Rev 12:1-17, the 24 elders in Rev 4:10, the 144,000 who were sealed in Rev 7:4-8, and
the great multitude of people in Rev 7:9-17 ‒ the only one of these interpretations which is
correct), precisely that ‒ i.e. the identification of the congregation with the "Bride of
Christ" ‒ is the way things are seen and taught today in almost all Christian congregations.
But as Paul also tells us in 1Cor 12:26-27, we are already the body of Christ and so we can hardly
be two things ‒ the Bride of Christ and the body of Christ ‒ at the same time.
But then we also find a further indication of a bride in the Old Testament, in Hos 2,19-20:
I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness.
Hos 2,19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth
you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, 2,20 And I will
betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. Hos 2,19-20
Here it is God the Almighty himself who promises, through the mouth of the prophet
Hosea, that he will betroth himself for eternity, in righteousness and justice and in lovingkindness
and compassion. But as we can understand from the context here, this bride to whom the promise is
made is not the Christian congregation but the people of God who are of Israel (Rev 7:4-8,14:4-5).
And seeing that the word from the mouth of God is the absolute truth, Paul’s interpretation must
be astray. All the same we have to give him credit for his expressly indicating in the above passage
(Eph 5,32) that he is "saying" it. This means it is an interpretation on his part, and not a
revelation of the Lord such as he received on other occasions. ‒ And if anyone supposes that
the one is the Bride of God and the other the Bride of Christ, they will have to respond to
questions about their understanding of the Trinity.
(See also Discourse 15: "Who is the bride of the
But when we know that Paul himself was in fact a scribe, and so must ‒ with a
probability approaching certainty ‒ have been familiar with this promise of the Almighty’s
to his people, it permits us to conclude that Paul was actually of the opinion that Israel had
fallen out of the grace of God and that the Christian congregation had taken its place. His
statements in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 11:17-21) would also seem to indicate this.
And of course he isn’t completely wrong about this either. Following its rejection and slaying of its Messiah, the Son of God, Israel was really rejected by God. At that time God dissolved the covenant with his people. With the destruction of Jerusalem (and in particular the destruction of the Temple and the sacrificial altar) by Titus’ Roman troops in the year 70, God made it impossible for the people of Israel to have any contact with him at all. The essential sacrifice for sin, which according to the faith of Moses had to be brought before God on the sacrificial altar of the temple in Jerusalem, for the forgiveness of sins and recovery of righteousness by the sinner, was no longer possible. And when, a little after this, the entire people was driven from its homeland and forced into the Diaspora, Israel had become a God-less people.
Not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.
Mt 24,1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His
disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 24,2 And He said to them, "Do you
not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which
will not be torn down." Mt 24, 1- 2;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.
Amos 8,11 "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord GOD,
"When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But
rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 8,12 "People will stagger from sea to sea And from
the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not
find it. Amos 8,11-12;
Precisely these biblical prophecies referred to above, which came to pass word for
word as much as two thousand years ago, should be held up to the unbelieving world as a proof of the
credibility and truth content of the Bible ‒ not the "Gathering of Israel" in the year
1948. That gathering did not place by God’s agency, as the biblical prophecies promise (Ezk
20:34,36:24; Jer 16:15,32:37-38) and as every student of the Bible, and even any interested atheist
can prove on the basis of the Bible at any time. It was a gathering effected by Theodor Herzl and
his Zionists, along with war, expropriation and the expulsion of the native Palestinians. And for
that very reason, this state will be destroyed again. And what will we say then to the unbelieving
world? That God slipped up?
II will deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.
Hos 1,7 "But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and
deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or
horsemen." Hos 1, 7;
But the Almighty has left the Israelites one path open ‒ that same path that
he opened up two thousand years ago for all human beings. At the Last Supper, our Lord Jesus Christ
said to the disciples, who after all were Jews and the children of Jewish parents:
"This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant
in My blood." (Lk 22,20).
So the vicarious death of the Son of God on the cross for the sins of all human
beings is the New Covenant of God with Israel and the entire world. Anyone who believes that
this blood has been poured out for his or her sins, as well as the rest of the human race, no longer
needs either a temple or a sacrificial altar. Their sins have been forgiven through grace.
He has offered one sacrifice for sins for all time. This is the covenant that I will make with them.
Hbr 10,10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of
the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10,11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time
after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 10,12 but He, having offered one
sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of GOD, 10,13 waiting from that time
onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 10,14 For by one offering He has
perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 10,15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for
after saying, 10,16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says
the LORD: I will put my laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them," He then
says, 10,17 "And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." 18 Now
where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Heb 10,10-18;
(See also Discourse 103: "God’s covenant with all
But in their stubbornness, the Jews have failed to understand this right up to the
present day. As they did then, so today they still abuse their Messiah and Redeemer as an impostor
and blasphemer and refuse to accept him. So they will all die in their sins and go to damnation, as
the Lord prophetically told them:
You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he (the Messiah).
Jn 8,22 Then said the Jews, "Will he kill himself, since he says,
‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?" 8,23 He said to them, "You are from below, I am
from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 8,24 I told you that you would die in
your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he." Jn 8,22-24;
Nonetheless, the descendants of the people of Israel will return to their God once
more. When the Son of God enters on his rule in the Millennial Kingdom, the survivors of Israel will
look on him whom they have pierced and they will mourn bitterly over him as one mourns for an only
son. Then too it will be this same New Covenant of forgiveness by grace, and none other, which
Israel will enter into as a people (Isa 14:1; Jer 31:33-34; Eze 16:60.37:26; Heb 8:10-12).
They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son.
Zech 12,10 "I will pour out on the house of David and on the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me
whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will
weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zech 12,10;
The next hurdle that confronts an unbeliever on his path to belief in the God of the
Bible is the frequent assertion ‒ which Christian commentators scarcely refute, for want of
knowledge ‒ that the Bible bears no relation to reality. And yet there is a whole series of
events in Scripture which provide indubitable proof that these are not any old fictitious "fairy
tales" but are reports of absolutely real facts. When these are carefully studied and rightly
interpreted, this just has to be acknowledged even by atheists, so long as they are objective and
One of these examples can be found both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. This consists in the indications that at the start of creation our planet was covered with a mantle of water, – similar to the Saturn’s Moon "Enceladus".
God separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse.
Gen 1,6 Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of
the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." 1,7 God made the expanse, and
separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the
expanse; and it was so. Gen 1, 6- 8;
So at the beginning of creation the earth was completely covered with water, right
up to the highest points of elevation. In the passage following we then learn that God created a "firmament"
within this mass of water, by separating these waters from the ground right round the globe, so that
a water-free space arose between the remaining waters on the earth and the great part of the watery
masses above this space ‒ which today we call the atmosphere.
Now many atheists ‒ and they are not alone ‒ think this is the most evident proof that the Bible contains nothing but fantasies. For quite apart from the absurdity of imaginations of this kind, we naturally find ourselves compelled to ask ‒ seeing that we have a clear sky today ‒ where all this mass of water can have gotten to. ‒ But here again there is a completely plausible explanation. And this too is to be found in the Bible.
For if God did not spare the ancient world, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
2Pet 2,4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast
them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 2,5 and did not
spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He
brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2Pet 2, 4- 5;
Until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came.
Mt 24,37 "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the
days of Noah. 24,38 "For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 24,39 and they did
not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man
be. Mt 24,37-39;
The heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water andwas destroyed, being flooded with water
2Pet 3,5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by
the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 3,6
through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 2Pet 3, 5- 6;
So according to the above explanation by Peter in 2Pet 3,5, it was this very same
mantle of water that covered the earth in the atmosphere which then rained down on the earth for 150
days to cause the Flood ‒ as God actually prophesied to Noah in Gen 6,17.
Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth.
Gen 6,11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth
was filled with violence. 6,12 God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh
had corrupted their way upon the earth. 6,13 Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has
come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to
destroy them with the earth.
6,17 "Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. Gen 6,11-17;
So thus far we have a logical sequence for the unfolding of the event, which seems
very far from fantasy. But then we have another very interesting description of this event in the
Bible, which documents the absolute reality of these occurrences in the most astounding way.
According to the Bible, God annihilated all of humanity at the time of the Flood. Only Noah, his
wife and their three sons, with their wives ‒ eight persons in all ‒ were saved.
But after that, God made a promise to Noah and all his descendants ‒ the whole of humanity in other words ‒ and all other creatures as well, that in future there would never be another flood of this kind to destroy all life on earth.
Neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.
Gen 9,9 "Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you,
and with your descendants after you; 9,10 and with every living creature that is with you, the
birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even
every beast of the earth. 9,11 "I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never
again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the
earth." Gen 9, 9-11;
As a sign of this covenant with all creatures on earth, God set a bow in the clouds.
This bow is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.
Gen 9,12 God said, "This is the sign of the covenant which I am
making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive
generations; 9,13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me
and the earth. 9,14 "It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow
will be seen in the cloud,
9,15 and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. 9,16 "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." Gen 9,12-17;
This "bow in the clouds" is of course the rainbow ‒ and here we find a
very interesting connection with the view we referred to earlier, according to which there was a
mantle of water in earth’s atmosphere before the Flood.
It can be recognized from the above passage (Gen 9,12-14) that this "bow" was something completely new to Noah and his family. They had never seen anything of the kind before. But we can also conclude from this that there hadn’t been any rainbows on earth before the Flood either.
If we now consider the physical conditions for this optical phenomenon of the atmosphere, we recognize that a rainbow can always be observed when the sun is located at the back of the observer and illuminates a raincloud or wall of rain to the front of him. When the sun’s rays are refracted by the raindrops, the white sunlight is split into all the colors of the spectrum and the rays are reflected back in the eyes of the observer.
Thus the basic precondition for the occurrence of a rainbow is the direct impact of the sun’s rays. If we now suppose, as explained earlier, that the whole earth was covered by a closed mantle of water before the time of the Flood, the earth would have been lit at the time by translucent light but there would not have been any direct solar radiation. And consequently it would not have been possible for a rainbow to occur either.
This realization of the connection between biblical statements and the reality of the meteorological phenomenon of the rainbow was first published here at Immanuel.at in Excursus 12 ("The Creation") in 1995, and has since met with worldwide resonance and confirmation.
(See also Excursus 12: "The Creation.")
A further brief example showing that serious scientific results are just bound to
confirm the truth of the Bible is the maximum age attainable by human beings, known as the
‘Hayflick limit’. This has to do with the chromosomes and their propagation methods. Chromosomes
are long, spindle-shaped structures made up of DNA. The mechanism of their propagation involves the
fact that every time they divide they lose a bit of their ends, known as the telomers. The total
available length of these thus determines the maximum age that it is possible for human beings to
attain to. And some 30 years ago this biological upper limit was experimentally demonstrated by Leonard
Hayflick, Professor of Anatomy at the University of California in San Francisco, thus finding
out what God the Almighty had resolved in Gen 6,3 after the Flood:
My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.
Gen 6,3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with
man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty
years." Gen 6, 3;
(See also Excursus 08: "The
first and the second death.")
This is the well known "theodicy problem" (theodicy is the Greek word for
the justification of God), which atheists above all bring forward as grounds for their refusal to
believe in a God. Here the question is put ‒ "How can an almighty and kindly God allow all
the ills and evils that there are in the world?" The Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270
BC) summed up the problem, for example when he put the question, "If an almighty God can remove
the ills of this world, where do these ills come from and why does he not take them away?"
Seeing that nothing of the kind happens, such persons are quick to come up with the answer ‒ "Then there isn’t a God." These people confuse God with a soap dispenser, where you press a lever and a bit of "God" comes out, with which you can then abolish all the ills of the world. This curious conception is even promoted by Christian preachers of every description, when they blather on about the "infinite" love of God ‒ with the aim of luring people into their camp, who can then be deposited as nominal Christians in some church or congregation or other. If God’s love were really infinite, he would have been able to forgive people their sins without any sacrifice and would not have had to send his Son, who had to die for these same sins on the cross.
God’s love is not infinite, otherwise it would be blind. The love of God lasts until such time as his grace and mercy have been exhausted in the life of every individual. If love, grace and mercy are rejected and refused, there only remains the absolute and inexorable justice of God which this individual will in the end find himself confronting. God gives human beings complete freedom to decide for or against him. Seeing that the overwhelming majority of human beings decide against God, we can hardly be surprised at the world’s being the way it is. So it is human beings, not God, who are responsible for the ills and evils of the world. This is the real theodicy ‒ the real justification of God.
The problem philosophy has with theodicy is very similar to the situation of astronomy before the Copernican revolution. When Copernicus (1473-1543) made the discovery that Ptolemy’s geocentric world picture (in which the sun revolves around the earth) was wrong, so it is not the sun going around the earth but vice versa, the earth goes around the sun, the whole scientific world of the time ‒ including theologians like the Swiss reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) and Martin Luther (1485-1546) ‒ asked, "How can it be that the earth revolves around the sun, when it is a fact of daily observation that the sun moves around the earth, crossing the sky from its rising to its setting?" And they too were quick to answer the question, with statements like "According to biblical teaching, the earth cannot move" (Calvin) or "The idiot (Copernicus) will turn the entire science of astronomy upside down" (sound clip, Luther).
As we can see, the problem here was similar to the question involving God ‒ the person who had really engaged with the issue, and had done the study and the research, had discovered the truth. No one else had any real interest in the question, but they were all quick to voice an opinion on the matter, which has made them (including Calvin and Luther) look silly for centuries. And our contemporaries who deny the existence of God today will look just as silly when it comes to the Last Judgment. That same God will then say to them "I do not know you", consigning them to eternal damnation. ‒ An attempt to give a biblically grounded answer to Epicurus’ question quoted above, incidentally, may be found on Immanuel.at in Discourse 104.
(See also Discourse 104: "What is the point of
But apart from this philosophical approach to the question, we can certainly find
points of departure in the Bible itself which may make it easier for us to arrive at an
understanding of the existence of God. Besides the many reports of God’s communications with the
prophets, not to mention with Abraham and Moses and last of all with Jesus Christ, we also have
three reports about a personal encounter between God and human beings. Two of these involve the
prophet Ezekiel (once on the river Kebar, and a second time in Jerusalem), and the third is a report
of a vision in heaven in the Revelation of John. A detailed description and analysis may be found on
Immanuel.at in Excursus 11.
(See also Excursus 11: "The throne of God.")
I hope I have succeeded, on the basis of the preceding arguments, in creating a
certain degree of basic confidence in the Bible, for this question above all ‒ the question
whether Jesus really is the Son of God ‒ can hardly be answered without the ’ assistance.
In the Bible we have various testimonies to this effect. To begin with, God’s promise to David, which admittedly found a preliminary fulfillment in his son Solomon, but as we can see from the context ("my kingdom forever", "his throne... established forever") must be seen in its ultimate reference as a prophecy of Jesus Christ, who as we know was a descendant and so a son of David:
I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him.
1Chr 17,11 "When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be
with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons;
and I will establish his kingdom. 17,12 "He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish
his throne forever. 17,13 "I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take
My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. 17,14 "But I
will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever."‘"
Then there is the testimony of John the Baptist, at the baptism of Jesus:
This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.
Mt 3,16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water;
and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting
3,17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Mt 3,16-17;
And then on the mountain where the Transfiguration takes place:
This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him
Mt 17,4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here;
if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for
Elijah." 17,5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a
voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to
Him!" 17,6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were
terrified. 17,7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be
afraid." Mt 17, 4- 7;
Then we have Jesus confessing his Father:
Tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of Gods. Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself;.
Mt 26,62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not
answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?" 63 But Jesus kept silent. And
the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You
are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself;
nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power,
and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He
has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy;
66 what do you think?" They answered, "He deserves death!". Mt 26,62-66;
I and the Father are one.
Jn 10,25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe;
the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 10,26 "But you do not believe
because you are not of My sheep. 10,27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they
follow Me; 10,28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch
them out of My hand. 10,29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no
one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 10,30 "I and the Father are one."
That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us.
Jn 17,20 "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those
also who believe in Me through their word; 17,21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father,
are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent
Me. 17,22 "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just
as We are one; 17,23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the
world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Jn 17,20-23;
Followed by further confessions on the part of the disciples:
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mt 16,15 He *said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16,16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 16,17
And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal
this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Mt 16,15-17;
Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!".
Jn 20,26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and
Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said,
"Peace be with you." 20,27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and
see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but
believing." 20,28 Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" 20,29
Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did
not see, and yet believed." Jn 20,26-29;
Even the demons acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God:
Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!"
Lk 4,41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, "You are
the Son of God!" But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him
to be the Christ. Lk 4,11;
Finally, too, we have a biblical proof of Jesus’ pre-existence, which can also
contribute to identifying him as the Son of God. He himself says in Jn 17,5:
Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Jn 17,5 "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with
the glory which I had with You before the world was. 17,6 "I have manifested Your name to
the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have
kept Your word. 17,7 "Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You;
17,8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly
understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. Jn 17, 5- 8;
Here he confirms that he was with the Father, in the Father’s glory, before the
creation of the world (see also Jn 8:56-59). The statement that he was already with the Father
before the creation of the world conforms with Paul’s saying, in the Epistle to the Colossians,
that this creation of the world was itself the work of the Son of God, of the Logos and so of God’s
Word. When God said "Let there be…", it was the Word of God, the Son of later times, through
whom everything was created.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth.
Col 1,16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and
on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities ‒
all things have been created through Him and for Him. 1,17 He is before all things, and in Him all
things hold together. Col 1,16-17;
Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
1Cor 8,5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on
earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 8,6 yet for us there is but one God, the
Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all
things, and we exist through Him. 1Cor 8, 5- 6;
And as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews adds, God not only made the worlds
through his Son, he also appointed him heir of all things.
In these last days God has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hbr 1,1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in
many portions and in many ways, 1,2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He
appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 1,3 And He is the radiance of
His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His
power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Heb 1, 1- 3;
This realization now brings us to another aspect of the Son of God, which hitherto
has generally received little notice. Almost everybody, including even atheists, has heard or read
of the "Last Judgment" or the "Judgment of the World" ‒ where, as the Bible tells us,
every human being must render account to God for his or her life. But only few people know who the
actual judge will be on the occasion. People generally assume that it will be God the Almighty who
sits on the throne of judgment and pronounces the verdict. But according to the Bible, this is not
the case. The Father has handed over all power in heaven and on earth to the Son (Dan 7:14; Mt
11:27.28:18; Lk 10:22; Jn 3:35.17:1-2; Eph 1:21-22; Phil 2:9; 1Pet 3:22; Heb 2:8).
All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.
Mt 11,25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of
heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have
revealed them to infants. 11,26 "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.
11,27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son
except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son
wills to reveal Him. Mt 11,25-27;
And at the Last Judgment, following the General Resurrection (the rebirth out of the
Spirit), it is the Son who will deliver the verdict on every individual human being.
The Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne und judge the assembled nations.
Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all
the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 25,32 "All the nations
will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats; 25,33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats
on the left.
25,34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 25,35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 25,36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
25,37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 25,38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 25,39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 25,40 "The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Mt 25,31-40;
In the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne,
Mt 19,28 And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who
have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne,
you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Mt 19,28;
The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels.
Mt 16,27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of
His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Mt
The dead were judged before the great white throne.
Rev 20,11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it,
from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 20,12 And I saw the
dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another
book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were
written in the books, according to their deeds. Rev 20,11-12;
As we can infer from the scriptural passages quoted above, the "glorious throne"
of the Son of Man is identical with the "great white throne" of Rev 20,11. It is the throne of
the Last Judgment, and the Son of God will sit upon it to judge the risen dead and reward each
individual in accordance with his or her deeds.
God the Father has handed over this judgment to the Son because he is the "Son of Man". That is to say, because he became human himself and was a human being and actually died as a human being. He experienced all the suffering which a human being could possibly suffer. No one would be able to say to him, "You have no idea what I have been through". He is the rightful judge, and he will judge righteously.
(See also Chapter 13: "The Last Judgment.")
We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Rom 14,8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for
the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 14,9 For to this end Christ died
and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 14,10 But you, why do you
judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all
stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 14,11 For it is written, "as I live, says the
Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." 14,12 So then each
one of us will give an account of himself to God. Rom 14, 8-12;
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
2Cor 5,8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent
from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 5,9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether
at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 5,10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has
done, whether good or bad. 2Cor 5, 8-10;
The Lord comes dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to be glorified in His saints on that day.
2The 1,6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, 1,7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the
Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 1,8 dealing
out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord
Jesus. 1,9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of
the Lord and from the glory of His power, 1,10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on
that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed ‛ for our testimony to you was
believed. 2The 1, 6-10;
They will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
1Pet 4,4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them
into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 4,5 but they will give account to Him
who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 4,6 For the gospel has for this purpose been
preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live
in the spirit according to the will of God.. 1Pet 4, 4- 6;
Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead.
2Tim 4,1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ
Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 4,2 preach
the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and
instruction. 2Tim 4, 1- 2;
And this is where the circle of God’s plan of salvation for human beings is
finally closed. His Son has come in order to atone, as a well pleasing sacrifice to the
righteousness of the Father, and to die on the cross for the sins of all human beings. And so
everyone who lives and believes in him will never die for all eternity.
Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.
Jn 11,25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the
life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 11,26 and everyone who lives and
believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" Jn 11,25-26;
And he who came to save the world, will finally judge the world as well. At the end
of his earthly mission, Jesus said:
He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
Jn 12,44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me,
does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 12,45 "He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.
12,46 "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain
in darkness. 12,47 "If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for
I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 12,48 "He who rejects Me and does
not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last
day. 12,49 "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me
has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 12,50 "I know that His
commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."
As we can see from all these biblical passages about faith in Jesus Christ as the
Savior, there is no kind of compulsion here. It isn’t a decision that anyone else can make for you
either. Every individual is completely free to accept God in Jesus Christ or to reject him. This was
well expressed by the late lamented evangelist, Wilhelm Busch:
Look – if you don’t want to believe, you really don’t have to! Can I tell
you something? In the church there are still all kinds of compulsions enforced. In the Kingdom
of God, there is only an absolute freedom of the will. If you want to live without God, you can
do it! God offers himself to us. But we can refuse him. Do you want to live without God? You
may. Do you want to live without having made your peace with God? You may. Do you want to live
without prayer? You may. Do you want to live without the Bible? You may. Do you want to
transgress God’s commandments? You may. Do you want to profane the Lord’s Day, be sexually
promiscuous, drink, lie and steal? You may. Anyone who does not want this Savior whom God has
sent to save sinners is at liberty to turn him down. Anyone who wants to go to hell can do just
that. With God there are no compulsions. But please be clear on one point – you will have to
live with the consequences. In Jesus God offers you peace, and the forgiveness of your sins. You
can say, "I don’t need it! And I don’t want it either!" And you may live accordingly.
But then you are not to suppose that in the last five minutes of your life, when you are on the
point of death, you will still be able to grasp what God has been offering to you for the length
of a whole lifetime. You are free to reject God’s offer of peace in Christ Jesus, but then you
must live for all eternity without having made your peace with God. And that is hell.
Hell is the place where you have finally and truly succeeded in getting rid of God. You are no longer invited. There is nothing calling you any longer. Perhaps you may want to pray, but you can’t do it any more. Perhaps you may want to call on the name of Jesus, but you can’t remember it any longer. You don’t need to accept this message I have for you. You can forget about converting to belief in Jesus, if that is what you want. But be clear about what you are doing, because you are choosing hell – and you have absolute freedom to do so!
"But you were unwilling!" Jesus tells the people of Jerusalem. He did not compel them in any way. But what they chose was horrible!
Wilhelm Busch (1897-1966) was a Pastor and youth worker in Essen, an evangelist, preacher, writer and author.
+) This extract and the photo are taken from the book "Jesus unser Schicksal" ["Jesus our Destiny"], by W. Busch, Schriftenmissions-Verlag Gladbeck/Westfalen [Scriptural Mission Publications, Gladbeck/Westphalia], ISBN 3-7958-0364-0.
(See also Discourse 55: "Why
does God permit suffering? – People who are unable to believe.".)
(…) Many thanks again for your analysis. You are welcome to publish my words
to you. However I would like to remain anonymous, as I don’t publish my real name on the
internet. The same applies to my e-mail address.
(… ) But the question still remains ‒ what grounds does an atheist (or the adherent of another religion) have at all to suppose
a) that God’s instructions are really from God, and are not just speeches invented by human beings, and
b) that the writers of the stories are even approximately reliable and have not just written down a collection of old myths?
What reason is there, for example, to suppose that the accounts of the Resurrection represent a real historical event rather than a miracle story, which came to be believed as a historical fact? After all, religious stories are full of miracle narratives which never took place. So what makes this story, out of all others, more reliable?
That’s right. You engage analytically with the entire Bible, and don’t just preach. This makes you different from other Christians, who only talk but are not able to listen or to reflect.
(...) I would like to ask you a question ‒ what was it that brought you to believe in the first place that the Christian faith is the "right" one? You can back up so many of your individual articles of faith in the light of the Bible, but what is the basis for the fact that you believe at all? Or to put the question differently ‒ why is it that you believe in the doctrine of the Bible, specifically, and not for example in the doctrine of the Koran?
(...) On the matter of the destruction of the temple, it should be said that this text can only be adduced as a proof if it was really written before the destruction of the temple. And with the gospels, that has not been shown to be the case by any means. There is no problem about supposing that this text was only written after the temple had already been destroyed, a view that has actually been substantiated by many biblical scholars.
(...) And of course it is true that a rainbow would only actually be visible when there is no mantle of water behind the sky ‒ and this you see as demonstrating that the Bible offers us scientifically correct reports. Well, yes, I can understand your thinking this sounds quite impressive. But for me it still doesn’t add up to sufficient proof. Why not? Because we are told in the Koran: "He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together: Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress" (Sura 55:19-20 – ar-Rahman). And again because at the following site ‒ www.wunderdesquran.com/wissenschaft_38.html (Wonders of the Koran, FH) ‒ you can find a scientific explanation of the phenomenon just referred to. Does this report convince you of the fact that the Koran is the Word of God? No? So how about this one: www.wunderdesquran.com/wissenschaft_index.
(...) I would like to ask you something ‒ have you ever subjected your faith to critical analysis? You base your entire faith on the Bible. But what is the basis for your determination to believe the Bible specifically, and not some other sacred book? You see, this is the very point that interests me ‒ how do I know that I can trust the Bible, that it contains true teachings and that the God of the Bible really exists? I have to know this for a start. And here it is not enough that we find it asserted in the Bible that God has spoken to human beings. The Edda as well talks about meetings of human beings with Odin, and we rightly assign this book to the category of mythology. And even in Christian circles too it does happen that people think up myths, and present them as real historical events. Just think about all the things that Jesus is supposed to have said and got up to in the apocryphal gospels. So how am I supposed to see that the Bible should be the foundation of my faith, and that the true God is the God of Christianity? If you could comment on these objections, it would be very kind.
I have acquiesced in your wish expressed above, and deleted your name and your
e-mail address from this discourse. Of course your wanting to remain anonymous puts your entire
commentary, so it seems to me, as it were in brackets ‒ rather in accordance with the motto,
"I uphold my opinion openly, but don’t tell anyone I said so." ‒ But never mind.
At the outset of our discourse I wrote to you that I cannot conduct a discussion with anyone who refuses to take the Bible as a basis for argument. You did write to me then, admittedly:
"I do not decline the Bible as a basis for discussion per se. If you
can prove things in the light of the Bible, just go ahead and do it. The problem only arises when
people try to prove the Bible with the help of the Bible ‒ ‘Biblical passage A is true,
because biblical passage B confirms that it is true.’ "
Yes indeed, and that is what our fathers in faith called "interpreting Scripture
by means of Scripture". ‒ Now, a basis for argument is after all characterized by the fact
that one argues on the basis of statements coming from this source ‒ and not other sources
chosen at random. Or do you see the matter differently? As you write above, you accept the Bible if
I can prove things in the light of the Bible. But when I prove things in the light of the Bible, you
"How do I know that I can trust the Bible, that it contains true
teachings and that the God of the Bible really exists?"
On the basis of your first e-mail to me, I was assuming that in fact you were
probably an objective, seeking atheist, perhaps of better than average intelligence. But in your
lines quoted above, it seems ‒ to me at least ‒ that objectivity is no longer so much in
You ask in your first e-mail for instance: "What reasons are there for me to suppose that the God of the Bible really exists?" And I have tried in this discourse to present you with those proofs and logical conclusions which I have at my disposal. Apart from the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (given the necessary biblical background knowledge) and the story of the rainbow (given the necessary meteorological scientific background), the other arguments of course are not the kind of proof which could be empirically demonstrated at the level of reality. But with a modest capacity for logical reflection, an aptitude for mental abstraction and adequate intelligence, most of these complexities of circumstance can certainly be interpreted and assigned to their rightful place.
What you want, though, is not an interpretation, but watertight and incontrovertible proofs, where you wouldn’t have any need of reflection or research and where you wouldn’t need to bother about possible interpretation options either. You are looking for an explanation which would leave you with no further difficulties of understanding ‒ one that would be so to speak "fool-proof". And this is not something you can have with faith ‒ otherwise it wouldn’t be called "faith", after all.
In his book referred to earlier, the preacher Wilhelm Busch described this kind of attitude of mind:
(...) The second group consists of those who say "I just can’t believe!",
but in reality, if they were completely honest, they would have to admit that what they really
mean is "I just don’t want to believe!" This is because if they were to come to believe
they would have to change their whole lives. And they wouldn’t like that. They know that
everything is wrong with their lives. If they were children of God, they would have to come into
the light. But no, they don’t want that. Besides, it might make them look silly in the eyes of
their colleagues. And what would their nearest and dearest say, if they suddenly became
Christians? No, definitely not! So if you come across people who say "I just can’t believe",
take a closer look, and see if they shouldn’t really have said "I just don’t want to
Wilhelm Busch (1897-1966) was a Pastor and youth worker in Essen, an evangelist, preacher, writer and author.
+) This extract and the photo are taken from the book "Jesus unser Schicksal" ["Jesus our Destiny"], by W. Busch, Schriftenmissions-Verlag Gladbeck/Westfalen [Scriptural Mission Publications, Gladbeck/Westphalia], ISBN 3-7958-0364-0.
But if you want to avoid looking silly in front of your colleagues, you are of
course free to remain anonymous. You then ask, in your above comments:
"What grounds does an atheist (or the adherent of another religion)
have at all to suppose
a) that God’s instructions are really from God, and are not just speeches invented by human beings, and
b) that the writers of the stories are even approximately reliable and have not just written down a collection of old myths?"
You refer here to the "adherents of another religion". Please would you show me
a single one of the world religions which would be able to prove that its God exists, and that his
instructions demonstrably come from him. Just try reading the Old Testament as carefully and
attentively as it appears that you have studied the suras of the Koran, and compare it with the
scriptures of other religions. If you are not struck by the difference between them, I can’t get
you to see it either. The explanations on the Islamic website you mention are the best example of
this. That even you should see this stuff as being "scientific" did give me some pause.
But let us take a look at your questions from a different point of view.
May I ask you to consider the following hypothetical question:
What reason does a person have to suppose in the first place
a) that there is no God, and the assertions of the atheists are just invented accounts coming from human beings, and
b) that the books of atheists (like "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, the countless books on evolution etc.) are even approximately reliable and do not just reproduce a collection of old myths?
If you decline, it makes your objectivity open to question. If you agree, on the
other hand, I ask myself how it is that you are actually still an atheist. Among scientists above
all ‒ whose vision penetrates the microcosm and the macrocosm ‒ atheism unfortunately
has a wide following. And yet it is a scientific fact, for instance, that in our solar system the
earth is the only one out of 9 (or 8) planets to be situated in the habitable zone, without which
life would not be possible at all. If the position of the earth in its orbit were closer to the sun,
there would be just desert and no life anywhere on the planet. If it were further distant, the earth
would freeze to ice, and again no life would be possible. Not to speak of the unimaginable
complexity of the human brain!
You go on to ask:
"What reason is there, for example, to suppose that the accounts of
the Resurrection represent a real historical event rather than a miracle story, which came to be believed
as a historical fact?"
And here I would like to ask you a counter-question:
What reason is there, for example, to suppose that the accounts of
evolution represent a real historical event rather than a miracle story, which just came to be believed
as scientific fact?
As you surely must know, the belief in evolution is just as unproven as belief in
the Bible and in the God of the Bible. So as you are of the opinion that the Bible cannot command
belief, in consistency you would have to reject evolution as well. And seeing that, as an atheist,
you also reject creation by God, may I just ask you how, in your view, the world came into being?
‒ But if you come to the conclusion that you do believe in evolution after all, the question
then suggests itself why you are unwilling to believe in the Bible?
As you see, all these things can easily be relativized. It just is the way things are that nothing in life is absolutely certain. Not even death, as unbelievers like to think. For death comes to an end with the raising of the dead. If we are intellectually honest, when it comes to the important things of life we must always take the trouble to think for ourselves, to compare, to form judgments and ‒ after checking the evidence as objectively as possible ‒ to come to a decision. This is not something anyone else can do for us ‒ and the same is true of faith as well. Unless of course we allow them to, because we are too lazy to think for ourselves or because our diminished intellectual responsibility leads us to appoint an "agent" to think on our behalf. But I am sure this does not come into consideration where you are concerned.
So in answer to your question about why you should believe in the God of the Bible, I can only say that it is an act of your understanding and of your own, uniquely personal character ‒ of your "brain" and "heart", so to speak ‒ and it is this which will finally give you an answer, based on the information and/or life experience you have acquired, to the question whether these statements you find in the Bible are right for you. But even if you should come to be convinced that the Christian faith is untrue ‒ and I hope that will not be the case ‒ that would still be better and more honest than just refusing even to face up to the question, out of complacency or indifference.
Atheists like you are the best possible proof of the fact that human beings can decide for or against God freely and without compulsion ‒ and in fact that is the way they have to decide. Either actively like you, or passively like billions of other people ‒ because they do not even come to grips with the question. On your "fact finding mission" you have heard what some Christians have to say, and you have already refuted their statements without assistance. And you have heard my arguments, which do not seem to convince you either. So it is all down to you. Make the most of it.
PS: Your supposition that the gospels were only written after the year 70 AD ‒ after the destruction of the temple, that is ‒ so that Jesus’ prophecy in Mt 24,2 would be a vaticinia ex eventu ‒ a prophecy, that is, which was only formulated after the occurrence of the event to which it refers ‒ is of course wrong. Reputed New Testament scholars have dated the composition of Matthew’s gospel, where this text is found, to the period between 50 and 60 AD, so prior to the destruction of the temple in 70. But even the composition of Luke’s gospel has been placed in the time between 63 and 66, and Mark’s in the time between 64 and 67. Only John’s gospel may have been written later than 70 AD, perhaps around about the year 100.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes have been clearly seen and understood through what has been made.
Rom 1,20 For since the creation of the world His invisible
attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through
what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 1,21 For even though they knew God, they
did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their
foolish heart was darkened. 1,22 Professing to be wise, they became fools. Rom 1,20-22;
Nothing is more reliable than the testimony of a dying person. Even liars
confess the truth then. A glance at words uttered on a deathbed often reveals more than all the
great words and deeds done in one’s lifetime. At that moment, when people are confronted with
death, many lose their masks and become genuine. Many have to acknowledge that they have built
their houses on sand, that they have given themselves to an illusion and have followed a great
lie. Aldous Huxley writes in his foreword to his book, Brave New World, that one should judge
all things as if he saw them from his deathbed. The Bible says: "So teach us to number our
days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90,12).
VOLTAIRE, the famous skeptic, had a horrible end. His nurse
said: "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night
long he cried for forgiveness."
DAVID HUME, an atheist, cried: "I am in flames!" His desperation was a horrible scene.
HEINRICH HEINE, the great skeptic, repented later. Towards the end of his life he wrote this poem:
The old lyre has been smashed on the rock called Christ!
The lyre, upon which the evil spirit prevailed to produce evil celebration.
The lyre that calls for revolt, that sang doubt, mockery and apostasy.
O Lord, o Lord, I kneel down, forgive me my songs.
Count Monthlon wrote of NAPOLEON: "The Emperor died
forsaken by all, on this horrible rock. (St. Helena) His death struggle was awful!"
CESARE BORGIA, a statesman: "I have taken care of everything in the course of my life, only not for death, and now I have to die completely unprepared."
TALLEYRAND: "I suffer the agonies of the lost."
CHARLES IX. (France): "I am lost, I see that clearly."
CARDINAL MAZARIN: "Oh my poor soul, what is to become of you? – Where do you go?"
HOBBES, An English philosopher: "It’s my turn, to take a leap into the darkness."
SIR THOMAS SCOTT, once president of the English House of Lords said: "Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty."
GOETHE. "More light!"
NIETZSCHE died insane.
LENIN died in a state of insanity. He prayed to the tables and chairs for forgiveness for his sins. Our revolutionary youth will enthusiastically and vociferously state this cannot be true in ant case true. It would be too painful to have to admit that the idol of millions has so obviously toppled himself.
About STALIN’s death struggle, his daughter Swetlana Allilujewa, who in March 1953 was called to the dying dictator in his dacha in Kunzewo, stated: "Father’s death was terrible and difficult. God gives the righteous an easy death.
SINOWJEW, the President of the Communist International, who was shot by Stalin: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one."
CHURCHILL: "What a fool I have been!"
YAGODA, Chief of the Russian Secret Police: "There must be a God. He is punishing me for my sins."
JAROSLAWSKI, President of the International Atheist Movement: "Burn all my books! Behold the Holy One! He’s been waiting long for me, and He is here!"
BUDDHA: "I did not reach my goal!"
JESUS CHRIST: "It is finished!"
Voltaire, David Hume and others would certainly have laughed or been scornful if
it had been explained to them during their lifetimes that they would be lost eternally without
Jesus. Nevertheless, they had to see at that moment that it was true and that the Bible was
right when it says, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes
judgment." How will you die? Will it also be too late for you? What will your last words be?
Dear reader, we must tell you, whether you want to admit it or not, that without Jesus and the forgiveness of your sins through his blood you are lost. And, indeed, you are absolutely, totally and eternally lost before a holy God. If you think that death is the end of everything, then you are one of the most deceived people. There is only one who can save you: JESUS CHRIST. Do you actually believe that the men cited above were putting on an act when it came to the end? Without having peace with God, death is a fearful reality from which the world runs away. People do not want to hear about it, they drive it from their consciousness. But is the head-in-the-sand policy an intelligent solution?
A Chinese Communist who had handed many Christians over to be executed, came to a pastor and said: "I have seen many of you die. Christians die differently. What is your secret?"
Do you want to know what it is? – If you want to come with your whole heart to Jesus and have peace with God, then you can say this prayer: "Lord Jesus, please forgive all my guilt and sins, my rebellion and living my own life. I am thankful that you died for me and paid the price with your blood for my sins. Please, come into my life now. I open the door of my heart and ask you to be my Lord from now on. I am thankful that you hear me and accept me."
It is not the formula that matters here but the attitude of your heart.
Jesus says: "Who comes to me, I will not cast out." Jesus alone has taken the power away from death
You could, with self-confidence and a smile pass over what you have just read and cast it from your mind. But even so, you will not escape death. What then? "LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight" (Psalm 39,5-6). For that reason the prophet Amos says, "Prepare to meet your God"
West-Europa-Mission EV (West Europe Mission EV) in Wetzlar https://www.wem-online.de/
Why believe? – Discourse 96